Administrative changes and new programs will be introduced to Voorhees residents in a new year for the school district that began on Sept. 7.
One major change put into place over the summer was the introduction of new Assistant Superintendent Andrew Moskowitz, who previously served as a principal. Six new administrators have joined the district to assist in all phases of school. There are also two new principals at the elementary level and a new director of early childhood education.
All full-time staffing positions were filled, with some new employees still undergoing mandatory training and background checks. All district schools will be operating all full staff capacity by the end of the month, officials announced.
“We are very fortunate; we’ve had very few openings,’ Moskowitz noted. “People want to come work in Voorhees.”
Director of Special Services Melody Alegria announced more “inclusive buddy” classes for students with special needs who deal with a form of alternate communication.
“We have some great things happening,” she emphasized. “One of the biggest initiatives is our inclusive buddy program, which combines our students in our self-contained and autism classes with their general education counterparts. We bring the students together a few times a week just to build a general form of acceptance and familiarity in the school.”
The Voorhees district also got a grant that enables it to introduce more classrooms for all-day preschool. Last year, there were eight classrooms and this year, there are 17 all-day preschool classes, including for special ed students.
Other funding for the district comes in the form of a wellness inter-agency network grant that assigns a therapist to schools two times a week, employs a crisis council and offers small-group counseling beyond that of guidance counselors.
Business Administrator Helen Haley said the district has also introduced keyless entry to buildings, with teachers using magnetic passes for access to locked areas.
“The badges will be used to swipe us into the buidling,” she explained. “This is something that has already been implemented with our CER program before and after school. We’re using a key fob, but we are using our ID badges. This will be effective Oct. 1.
“A lot of physical change was done to the doors …” Haley added “It will be good because it’s all electronic. It’s a safety feature but also (convenience).”
Superintendent Dr. Neely Hackett noted that the district had two in-school professional development days before students were welcomed back.
“We’re excited about the school year and put a lot of work in over the summer to move the school year forward,” she related. “We had some very nice gains across our standarized test scores and we’re excited to start the year. First day went well, besides some minor busing issues, but those are to be expected.”